World Health Organization (WHO)

Organisation mondiale de la santé (OMS)
Organización Mundial de la Salud (OMS)
منظمة الصحة العالمية
Всемирная организация здравоохранения

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1946-07-22 New York NY USA


Established on adoption of the Constitution signed by 61 states, 51 of which were also members of the United Nations. WHO Interim Commission -- Commission intérimaire de l'OMS was set up at the same time. Constitution entered into force on 7 Apr 1948, having been ratified by 26 UN member states, since which time 7th April each year is celebrated as World Health Day. First World Health Assembly met from 24 Jun to 24 Jul 1948, Geneva (Switzerland), and adopted an agreement whereby the World Health Organization, already a specialized agency established by intergovernmental agreement, was brought into relationship with the United Nations. The Interim Commission was superseded as from 1 Sep 1948. WHO is a specialized agency of A-XA3375 - United Nations (UN) within F-XF1000 - United Nations System, linked to E-XE3377 - ECOSOC.

WHO continues the movement for international cooperation in health commenced in the 19th century with the first H-XH0176 - International Sanitary Conference, 1851, and subsequent similar conferences, at which international conventions were agreed. It took over: the peace-time aspects of the work of the Health Division of H-XH0988 - United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration (UNRRA), set up in 1943; the functions of H-XH2289 - Office international d'hygiène publique (OIHP), set up 9 Dec 1907, Paris (France); the functions of H-XH0983 - Organisation d'hygiène de la Société des Nations, which had ceased to exist in 1939. World Health Declaration, adopted at the 51st Session, May 1998, to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of WHO, includes recommitment to primary health care as defined in the 'Declaration of Alma Ata', adopted at International Conference on Primary Health Care, 6-12 Sep 1978, Alma Ata (USSR), and endorsed by resolution WHA 32.30 of the 32nd World Health Assembly, May 1979.


Constitution defines health as a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity. Article 1 of the Constitution states: 'The objective of WHO shall be the attainment by all peoples of the highest possible level of health'. Consequent functions devolving from this aim to: (a) act as the directing and coordinating authority on international health work; (b) establish and maintain effective collaboration with the UN, specialized agencies, governmental health administrations, professional groups and other organizations as may be deemed appropriate; (c) upon request, assist governments in strengthening health services; (d) furnish appropriate technical assistance and, in emergencies, necessary aid, upon request or acceptance of governments; (e) provide or assist in providing, upon the request of the UN, health services and facilities to special groups, such as the people of trust territories; (f) establish and maintain such administrative and technical services as may be required, including epidemiological and statistical services; (g) stimulate and advance work to eradicate or control epidemic, endemic and other diseases; (h) in cooperation with other specialized agencies where necessary, promote the prevention of accidental injuries; (i) in cooperation with other specialized agencies where necessary, promote the improvement of nutrition, housing, sanitation, recreation, economic or working conditions and other aspects of environmental hygiene; (j) promote cooperation among scientific and professional groups which contribute to advancement of health; (k) propose conventions, agreements and regulations and make recommendations with respect to international health matters and perform such duties as may be assigned thereby to the Organization and are consistent with its objective; (l) promote maternal and child health and welfare and foster the ability to live harmoniously in a changing total environment; (m) foster activities in the field of mental health, especially those affecting the harmony of human relations; (n) promote and conduct research in the field of health; (o) promote improved standards of teaching and training in the health, medical and related professions; (p) in cooperation with other specialized agencies where necessary, study and report on administrative and social techniques affecting public health and medical care from preventive and curative points of view, including hospital services and social security; (q) provide information, counsel and assistance in the field of health; (r) assist in developing an informed public opinion among all peoples on matters of health; (s) establish and revise as necessary international nomenclatures of diseases, of causes of death and of public health practices; (t) standardize diagnostic procedures as necessary; (u) develop, establish and promote international standards with respect to food, biological, pharmaceutical and similar products; (v) in general, take all necessary action to attain the objective of the Organization.


2024-11-06 | Bogota, Colombia – Global Ministerial Conference on Ending Violence Against Children

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World Health Assembly (annual, normally in Geneva - Switzerland) attended by delegates from all Member States; Executive Board (meets twice a year) is composed of 34 technically qualified members.

/Headquarters Structure/:


Office of the Director-General includes:

  • Chief Nurse Office;
  • Compliance and Risk Management and Ethics (CRE);
  • Country Strategy and Support (CSS);
  • Communication (DCO);
  • Evaluation Unit (EVL);
  • Global Board of Appeal (GBA);
  • Gender, Rights and Equity – Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (GRE);
  • Global Preparedness Monitoring Board (GPMB);
  • Independent Oversight and Advisory Committee (IOAC);
  • Office of Internal Oversight (IOS);
  • Office of the Legal Counsel (LEG);
  • Office of the Ombudsperson and Mediation Services (OMB);
  • Polio Eradication and Polio Transition Programme (POL);
  • Prevention and Response to Sexual Exploitation (PRS);
  • Transformation Implentation Change (TIC).

Also includes T-XT0309 - WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) and T-XT1218 - Protocol to Eliminate Illicit Trade in Tobacco Products.

Executive Director’ of the WHO Health Emergence Programme.

Chief Scientist’ overseeing the Science Division.

Assistant Directors-General’:

  • External Relations and Governance;
  • Business Operations;
  • Data, Analytics and Delivery;
  • Universal Health Coverage/Life Course;
  • Universal Health Coverage/Communicable and Noncommunicable Diseases
  • Universal Health Coverage/Healthier Populations;
  • Antimicrobial Resistance;
  • Access to Medicines and Health Products;
  • Division of Health Emergency Intelligence and Surveillance Systems in the Emergencies Programme
  • Chef de Cabinet.

/Regional Offices/

/Country Offices/ (149)

/Other Offices/

  • WHO Hub for Pandemic and Epidemic Intelligence, Berlin (Germany);
  • WHO’s Office at the United Nations, New York NY (USA);
  • WHO Lyon Office;
  • K-XK1314 - WHO Centre for Health Development, Kobe (WKC), Kobe (Japan);
  • WHO Academy, Lyon (France);
  • WHO Global Centre for Traditional Medicine, Jamnagar (India);
  • Global Service Centre, Kuala Lumpur (Malaysia);
  • WHO Budapest Centre.


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Annual Budget

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Relations with Inter-Governmental Organizations

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Relations with Non-Governmental Organizations

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Type I Classification

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Type II Classification

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Subjects *

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UN Sustainable Development Goals **

GOAL 1: No PovertyGOAL 2: Zero HungerGOAL 3: Good Health and Well-beingGOAL 4: Quality EducationGOAL 5: Gender EqualityGOAL 6: Clean Water and SanitationGOAL 7: Affordable and Clean EnergyGOAL 8: Decent Work and Economic GrowthGOAL 9: Industry, Innovation and InfrastructureGOAL 10: Reduced InequalityGOAL 11: Sustainable Cities and CommunitiesGOAL 12: Responsible Consumption and ProductionGOAL 13: Climate ActionGOAL 14: Life Below WaterGOAL 15: Life on LandGOAL 16: Peace and Justice Strong InstitutionsGOAL 17: Partnerships to achieve the Goal



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* Subject classification is derived from the organization names and aims.
** UN SDGs are linked to the subject classification.

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